Ali Salami

Rumi: Love Poems [English Translation]

About the Poet

Rūmī, in full Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, also called by the honorific Mawlānā, (born c. September 30, 1207, Balkh [now in Afghanistan]—died December 17, 1273, Konya [now in Turkey]), the greatest Sufi mystic and poet in the Persian language, famous for his lyrics and for his didactic epic Mas̄navī-yi Maʿnavī (“Spiritual Couplets”), which widely influenced mystical thought and literature throughout the Muslim world. After his death, his disciples were organized as the Mawlawiyyah order. The following poems have been translated as part of a project on Rumi by Ali Salami.

Rūmī’s use of Persian and Arabic in his poetry, in addition to some Turkish and less Greek, has resulted in his being claimed variously for Turkish literature and Persian literature, a reflection of the strength of his influence in Iran and Turkey. The influence of his writings in the Indian subcontinent is also substantial. By the end of the 20th century, his popularity had become a global phenomenon, with his poetry achieving a wide circulation in western Europe and the United States.

Ghazal 3

ای دل چه اندیشیده‌ای در عذر آن تقصیرها

زان سوی او چندان وفا زین سوی تو چندین جفا

My heart, what reasons do you hold
For your shortcomings, so manifold?
While the Beloved remains constant and true,
Your unfaithfulness leaves much to rue.

His generosity knows no bounds,
While you persist with niggling sounds,
He bestows graces, one after the other,
Yet faults from you continue to smother.

Your heart harbors envy and dark thoughts,
While he bestows gifts and blessings in lots,
Your thoughts draw you down a wicked path,
His munificence, a sight to bask.

Why taste bitterness with every breath,
When sweetness can banish fears of death?
Draw near to the saints, in their light bask,
Let their company be your guiding task.

With repentance for sins and God on your lips,
He draws you closer with His loving grips,
Delivering you alive in moments divine,
His grace and mercy forever shine.

Fear grips your heart for all you’ve done wrong,
Desperately seeking salvation all along,
In that moment, open your eyes wide,
See Him by your side, guiding with pride.

If your eyes are bound and your path unclear,
You’re but a pebble in His hand, have no fear,
He rolls you along, guiding your way,
Tossing you in the air, come what may.

Passion for gold, silver, and women may grow,
But in your soul, the light of Mustafa does glow,
He plants within you both shadow and light,
To guide your path, and help you take flight.

Pulled by the lovely on one side,
On the other, the unlovely in stride,
Whirlpools surround, threatening to drown,
The ship must pass through, or forever go down.

Pray fervently, weep deeply in the night,
Let the echoes of your soul take flight,
May they reach the seven spheres above,
And fill your heart with peace and love.

When Shu’aib’s tears flowed like hail,
His groaning and lamenting did prevail,
Beyond all bounds, his sorrow did rise,
Until a proclamation came from the skies.

“Your sins are pardoned, for I have forgiven,
If paradise is what you seek, it is given,
Cease your petitions! Be silent now!
And let my grace on you bestow!”

Neither paradise, nor pardon do I seek,
My heart yearns for what words can’t speak,
To see God face to face, my only desire,
I’d plunge into fire to meet my Sire.

If I am banished from His sacred sight,
And shut out from that glorious light,
Then hellfire befits me, that’s my lot,
Paradise holds no appeal, I’m caught.

Without His countenance, paradise is but hell,
Mortality’s scent and hue, in me does dwell,
Where is the light of immortality’s grace?
In His hallowed presence, I long to embrace.

They advised, “Moderate your weeping so deep,
Lest your sight diminish, and forever sleep,
For tears beyond bounds, blind the eyes with sorrow,
Restrain your grief, hope for a better tomorrow.”

If my eyes see in that blessed way,
Then every part of me shall have its day,
Why should I grieve over blindness, if at last,
I see with every part of me beyond the past?

If my eye is deprived of sight forevermore,
Let the unworthy sight be lost and deplore,
For without the Beloved, what good is sight?
Blindness is better than such a worthless light.

In this world, each man his beloved would redeem,
For one, it’s a bag of blood, a treasured gleam,
For others, it’s the sun’s radiance divine,
Love’s worth varies with each heart’s design.

Each man chooses a beloved, good or bad,
According to his own nature, happy or sad,
It’s foolish to annihilate ourselves for naught,
Pity to sacrifice our souls for love untaught.

Bayazid asked a traveler on the road,
“What is your trade?” he slyly showed.
The man replied with his chosen art,
Bayazid laughed and played his part.

An ass-driver was the man’s trade,
Bayazid’s words made him afraid,
“Be gone from me!” he was told in ire,
“Lord! may he be Your slave, let his donkey expire!”

Ghazal 19

امروز دیدم یار را آن رونق هر کار را

The beloved, ornament of every affair,

Departed to heaven like Mustafa’s spirit fair.

Leaving behind a void of loss and pain,

Memories and love in our hearts remain.


His countenance shames the sun, bewilders heaven’s sphere,

Water and clay glow brighter through his radiance clear,

His beauty outshines fire, with its captivating flame,

Leaving all who witness it, in awe and wonder exclaim.


“Show me the ladder to reach heaven’s height,”

I pleaded, seeking the path to light.

He replied, “Your head’s the ladder, be wise,

Bring it down, and to heaven, you’ll surely rise.”


Place your feet on your head, and reach for the stars,

Cleave through the air, let no obstacle hold you behind bars,

Set your foot on the air, with courage and might,

And fly to the realm of endless light.


A hundred paths to heaven’s air may come your way,

And you ascend each dawn, like a prayer on display,

With wings of faith and a heart of pure light,

You soar towards the heavens, taking flight.


Ghazal 509

مُرغِ دِلَم باز پَریدن گرفت

The bird of my heart takes flight once more,

Its wings beating fast, my soul does adore,

The parrot of my being chews sugar with glee,

My spirit renewed, once again I am free.


My camel, mad and drunk, begins to break free,

Rending reason’s chain with wild frenzy,

A gulp of wine, so incautious and bold,

Flows over my head and eyes, taking hold.


The lion of the gaze, fierce and unyielding,

Drinks my blood, despite the dog’s howling,

Yet the river of life begins to flow once more,

And the grass along the bank begins to soar.


The breeze at dawn, back in the garden it blows,

Over rose and rosebed, the fragrance it bestows,

Love sold me for a single mistake,

But Love’s heart burned and began to retake.


He drove me out, but compassion found its way,

Love’s kindness now shines on me like a bright ray,

My foe sees I’m with the Friend, envy gnaws his hand,

For he knows Love’s power is greater than his command.


My heart escapes the tricks of fortune’s hand,

Into the embrace of Love it creeps, oh so grand,

The tale-bearer hints with a curved brow,

But Love’s eye sees all, and their whispers bow.


Love’s call to my heart was so strong,

That all else paled, and I fled from the throng,

For in the presence of Love, creatures are mere sticks,

And the blind man discards them as he begins to fix.


Creatures are like milk to the newborn,

But when we grow, we seek more than what we’ve known,

The spirit is like a falcon, soaring high,

For it hears the king’s drum, calling it nigh.


Enough, for the veil of speech now draws,

And a curtain of words around us gnaws.


Ghazal 1805


پوشیده چون جان می‌روی اندر میان جان من


Stealthily like the soul, you move,

Amidst my very own soul divine;

In my garden, a shining cypress groove,

Gracefully swaying, Oh luster mine.


Go not alone, my love,

Soul intertwined with mine;

Take not just thyself above,

But my body and sight entwine.


You move like a whisper, my soul’s twin,

In my garden, a cypress shining within;

Oh my precious light, swaying so fine,

Gracefully dancing, in a rhythm divine.


My love, do not depart on your own,

Our souls are entwined, forever grown;

Take not just thyself to heavens above,

But my body and sight, entwine in love.


Oh torch so bright and bold,

Your light in darkness I behold;

Stay with me as we grow old,

Together we’ll climb the summit untold.


I’ll rend the seven heavens for you,

Brave the seven seas to prove my love true;

Your love in my soul, etched like a tattoo,

My faith in your vision, forever anew.


In my bosom, your flame resides,

Infidelity and faith now collide;

Your face, my faith’s ultimate guide,

With you, my heart and soul coincide.


Headless and footless I may seem,

Sleepless and foodless, a wild dream;

But you, my Joseph of Canaan, redeem,

Drunk with love, my heart doth beam.


By your grace, I’m like a soul,

Hidden from myself, I’m made whole;

Your being in mine, a mystery’s role,

In my hidden creed, you are the goal.


The rose and narcissus in awe,

Branches heavy with your mystic draw;

You, my infinite garden, without flaw,

Perfectly enhanced by love’s raw.


In one moment, you brand me deep,

The next, into the garden you sweep;

Before the lamp, my eyes you keep,

Opening them, without a peep.


Oh soul before all souls, I see,

Mine before all mine, I know thee;

Moment before all moments be,

My love for you, endlessly free.


Our resting place not on earthly land,

Though the body may crumble like sand;

My thoughts reach beyond the grand,

Union with you, my heavenly brand.


Mariners find their grave in the sea,

Eternal rest, their destiny;

In the water of life, where shall it be,

Oh my sea, my ocean, where reigns thee?


Your scent lingers in my every sigh,

Your sigh, my companion, as time goes by;

Color and scent distraught, but we try,

In hope of our Emperor, we reach high.


My soul, like a mote in the air,

Separated from heaviness and despair;

Without you, why should I dare,

Oh origin of my elements, so rare.


Oh my King, Sallah Al-Din,

You know and see my every sin;

Free of concern for my dignity thin,

Loftier than my potential, my love, you win.

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